2023-03-30 21:05Press release

Common, sneaky sales tactics that you need to be aware of

Retailers constantly run promotions and giveaways to encourage shoppers to spend. Sometimes these offer great deals, but sometimes not. In this article, PriceSpy explains a number of sneaky sales tactics that retailers often use to help encourage you to part with your hard-earned money…

  1. Rollercoaster pricing

What is it?

Rollercoaster pricing is when a retailer gradually hikes a product’s price, before suddenly dropping the price and advertising a discount based on the highest previous price. For example, claiming a discount of 50% compared to the previous day’s price, but - if compared to the price 30 days ago - it may only be a 20% discount. Or, it may even be more expensive. Sometimes referred to as a ‘fake deal’, rollercoaster pricing is especially prominent around big shopping periods like Black Friday, the Cyber Weekend and Christmas.


How to navigate rollercoaster pricing

Awareness is the first step towards not falling for this tactic. If you have an item on your wishlist, check out its price history (on its product listing on PriceSpy) to see what its average price is and be mindful of sudden price increases.

  1. Yo-yo pricing

What is it?

Yo-yo pricing refers to prices going up and down multiple times per year - sometimes, as frequently as every few days or weeks. Prices are lowered for a short period of time in order to boost sales, before they’re suddenly increased again. Retailers might brand these as ‘flash sales’ or ‘one day only’ offers.


How to navigate yo-yo pricing

With yo-yo pricing, an attractively discounted price is rarely the last opportunity to bag a bargain. Chances are, you’ll see this same price again. Therefore, set up price alerts and be notified when a product you’re after drops in price to a level that you’re happy to pay.

  1. Gender-based pricing

What is it?

PriceSpy research has found countless instances of brands and retailers offering very different prices for ‘male’ and ‘female’ versions of essentially the same product. Especially common in beauty and clothing, men are typically charged more for outdoor gear whilst women face higher costs for beauty items.


How to navigate gender-based pricing

To help save money, given products are often so similar, despite how they’re marketed or branded, shoppers may benefit from being open-minded about buying products marketed to a different gender. Compare men’s, women’s and also unisex versions to see how different they really are, and then which is cheapest.

  1. Bundle pricing

What is bundle pricing?

This refers to an item being offered for free when purchasing a certain product. ‘Bundling’ items together. Sometimes, retailers run promotions like this when they have surplus stock of the additional item or when they’re looking to boost sales of a certain product. Often, however, the price of the main product will have been hiked to account for the additional 'freebie' - meaning the additional item is not free at all.


How to navigate bundle pricing

Don't get blindsided by seemingly attractive bundle pricing. Do you need, or even want, the additional product? If not, it's not worth buying this bundle. If, in fact, you do want this additional product, then it may be a great deal for you.

  1. Pressure pricing

What is it?

The use of phrases such as ‘only one remaining!’, ‘last chance!’, ‘get it before it’s gone!’, ‘this is in 10 people’s baskets right now!’ etc. Pressure pricing is common in both online retail and in physical shops where advertising banners will often alarm shoppers and coax them into buying at a certain time and price. Other tactics include countdown clocks which - often falsely - imply that a sale is about to expire.


How to navigate pressure pricing

Firstly, don’t panic! Look at the availability of the item in other stores (you can do this on a product’s page on PriceSpy) to understand if there’s any real urgency to buy it now. Whilst one retailer may be low on stock, others may have plenty.


In addition to the recommendations laid out above - including setting up price alerts and checking at item’s price history before buying - PriceSpy offers smart, little-known advice to help you pick up bargains throughout the year, whilst avoiding falling for bad deals.

  1. Plan when to make your purchases

PriceSpy looked at the cheapest time to buy specific popular products throughout 2022 to come up with this guide on the best and worst months to buy certain items. Unsurprisingly, buying certain items out-of-season can deliver big savings. But, not every time! Check out the guide to understand how seasonality affects the price of certain items. 

  1. Bide your time when buying newly-launched technology

When buying tech, in particular smartphones and TVs, some new products very quickly lose their value. For example, Samsung Galaxy smartphones drop in price by almost a fifth (-17%) just 10 weeks after they launch. It’s also a common trend for older models to drop in price when a new model is launched. On the date that a new Samsung Galaxy smartphone launches, its closest predecessor will have dropped in price by, on average, almost a third (-32%).

  1. Don’t wait for big sales events to snap up a bargain

Sales events like Black Friday, and traditional sales periods like the Boxing Day sales and January sales, can’t be relied upon to get the best deals. For example, in 2021 over a fifth (22%) of products were more expensive on Black Friday compared to the start of November. That said, Black Friday is still the cheapest day, on average, throughout the year - so keep those price alerts on all year round.

About PriceSpy

PriceSpy is a comprehensive price and product comparison service used by millions of consumers every month. It helps consumers find, discover, research and compare products.  Since the business first started in 2002, its main objective has been to help consumers make better purchasing decisions. PriceSpy does this by collecting and sharing honest, transparent information about retail shops, products and prices. PriceSpy has well over 700 000 indexed products, sold by more than six thousand shops. PriceSpy is part of Schibsted and is located in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom. The PriceSpy app is available to download for free, via the App Store and Google Play.